Whether you’re making a documentary, producing a piece of video art with sound, or narrating a gallery crawl, you’re going to need a decent microphone. While there’s a little mic built into your camera, it cannot compete with a full-sized device. To get the best sound clarity and quality for your projects, upgrade to a shotgun microphone, which can be attached directly to your camera and has a streamlined design that can be aimed at your audio source for enhanced pickup. Below, find our reviews of the best camera microphones for different budgets and needs.
1. Rode VideoMic Camera
Praised by recordists of all skill levels, the VideoMic offers the best balance between price and performance for a shotgun microphone. It is a great go-to for all recording needs, whether indoors or outdoors—particularly when combined with a dead cat. This highly directional mic maintains a close focus on its subject and cuts out excess noise thanks to its high-pass filter and exceptional integrated shock mount that consists of a single piece of heavy-duty thermoplastic. It is compatible with DSLRs and, with an adapter, smartphones, and it runs on a 9-volt battery. Due to its ABS construction, it weighs just 12 ounces—perfect for carrying around in the field.
2. Movo VXR10 Universal Video Microphone
Most microphones require an external battery, which adds extra weight to your setup. Not this Movo model, which is powered by whatever unit you plug it into, whether a DSLR or a smartphone (and it comes with a cable for direct plug-in to your handheld device). Small and weighing just 7.2 ounces, it also doesn’t drain energy very quickly from your camera. The metal build feels solid and features an integrated shock mount. This piece is made of hard plastic and is not quite as high in quality as the mount on the Rode, but it does a good job of minimizing noise in breezeless or low-wind situations.
3. TAKSTAR SGC-598 Interview Microphone
This is a great starter accessory for those who want to keep costs low and gain some experience before upgrading to a forever mic. Designed for use with DSLRs with a 3.5-millimeter interface, it maintains a pretty good, tight focus on its source, helping to filter out, though not entirely eliminate, background and camera body noise. Expect to do more work in postproduction than would be necessary with a pricier mic. Made mostly out of plastic, it feels less sophisticated than our other picks, but don’t let the material dissuade you from getting to know this highly capable model. Don’t forget to purchase a AA battery before use.
4. Shure VP83F LensHopper
Shure’s microphone checks all the boxes. It has a solid build (being made out of metal), is compact (smaller than the Rode), and weighs just over 1 pound. It also has a fantastic battery life of 10 hours. More important, it is incredibly sensitive, reproducing bright and clear audio that sounds completely natural. The integrated shock mount offers first-rate isolation from vibrations in almost any situation. What makes this mic extra special is that it has built-in flash memory recording, meaning that you can not only hook it up to a DSLR or portable audio recorder, but also use it entirely on its own.
5. Deity V-Mic D4 Duo
If you’re often in situations that require recording of audio from not only in front of but also behind your camera, this is a convenient microphone to use. It is essentially two mics in one, with recording capsules on opposing ends. Additionally, you can choose to record either in mono or in stereo (many shotgun mics offer just mono recording). The mics successfully isolate audio even in relatively windy settings to produce crystal-clear recordings.